Georgia native Lisa Cook confirmed as first Black woman on Fed board

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate has confirmed Lisa Cook to the Federal Reserve Board, making the Georgia native the first Black woman to hold the position.

Vice President Kamala Harris cast the tie-breaking vote Tuesday evening, joining all 50 Democrats voting in favor of confirming Cook. All 50 Republican senators were opposed.

Prior to the vote, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown said GOP criticisms that Cook was unqualified and unprepared for the position were unfounded. He cited the Milledgeville native’s resume: Spelman College graduate, Truman Scholar, and tenured professor in economics and international relations at Michigan State University.

“She’ll protect the Fed’s independence; she knows workers drive economic growth,” said Brown, an Ohio Democrat. “She, like the president, understands you put workers at the center of our economy — that’s the kind of Fed governor she’s going to be.”

Cook’s confirmation was delayed for weeks as Republicans used procedural tactics, including the filibuster, to slow down the process. Coronavirus cases among Democratic senators and the vice president caused more recent delays because the presence of every Democratic member was needed to confirm Cook.

Cook will join the Federal Reserve Board at a crucial time of skyrocketing inflation and with its members tasked with crafting a U.S. monetary policy that leads prices to stabilize without throwing the nation into a recession.

Georgia U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock celebrated Cook’s confirmation via a post on Twitter.

“I was proud to cast my vote for Dr. Cook,” he wrote. “Her decades of experience as an economist and her Georgian sense of fairness will help promote balance and innovation to strengthen our economy.”